Psychological care is a term that refers to mental health services for specific mental conditions (GGZ). The following professions provide psychological care: Psychotherapists and psychologists in mental health care. These professions are legally protected.

A General Practitioner, also known as a Primary Care Physician, should be your primary point of contact for mental health care.

When it comes to our well-being, mental health is just as important as physical health – American Psychological Association.

Looking after your mental health

When it comes to looking after ourselves, we pay attention to our:

  • hygiene & exercise (body),
  • psyche or self-care (mind) or
  • body & mind at the same time (mind-body).

There are various ways of looking after your mental health and taking care of yourself, for example, during your day-to-day activities and guided health or fitness activities, such as a good night’s rest or workouts.

Recovery strategies

Doing the things that relax you has a positive effect on your mental health. They restore your balance. Gardening, taking a hot shower, cooking, or listening to music can be therapeutic activities, but what gives you comfort and energy remains something personal. It’s good to keep that in mind.

When restorative practices don’t or no longer work for you

Seek psychological care if you are worried about your mental health. Do this, especially if you have a lot of psychological discomfort in your daily life, such as difficulty sleeping. As a first step, make an appointment with your primary care doctor. Even if you don’t want medication (yet), it helps to talk about problems from the start.

Psychological care

Psychological care focuses on treating and preventing disturbances in the normal functioning of the mind. Disturbances include psychological problems, symptoms and disorders.

By law, psychological care refers to mental health services related to specific mental health diagnoses (GGZ). And in health insurance policies, these services fall under the category of psychological care.

The following professions are involved in psychological care:

  • A General Practitioner  or Primary Care Doctor.
  • Mental health Care Psychologist.
  • Psychotherapist or therapist.
  • Clinical (neuro)psychologist.
  • Psychiatrist.

For psychological care, you can go to a therapist and mental health institutions.

As a first step, make an appointment with your primary care doctor. The doctor (and the doctor’s surgery team) will assess your mental health and determine whether psychological care is necessary.

If psychological care is not considered necessary, your doctor will inform you of other services that can help you look after your mental health.

Psychologists’ areas of expertise

There are differences between professional psychologists. Some psychologists treat people, and some psychologists do not provide psychological care.

Psychologist: Behavioural expertise

Psychology focuses on studying, understanding, and influencing human behaviour to bring about positive change and solve problems in society and many other areas of human activity.

Psychologists work wherever knowledge about human behaviour is needed. Many of the challenges we face are rooted in human behaviour. Psychological knowledge can help us find solutions to these challenges.

Each academically trained psychologist is a behavioural expert. Psychologists are experts in the human mind, emotions and behaviour and know how various circumstances influence people.

Whatever the problem, the psychologist will use a scientific approach to determine the likely cause and what is likely to help.

Psychological care in a clinical setting

Psychotherapists are trained to provide therapy. They are clinicians who diagnose or treat patients independently or collaborate with medical teams.

Psychologists who treat people are called practitioner psychologists or (psycho)therapists. Other psychologists are otherwise involved in mental health care. 

Psychotherapists are both professional psychologists and practitioner psychologists. They are psychologists who also have specialised in psychotherapeutic techniques and mental illness treatment.

Other practitioner psychologists include primary-tier, secondary-tier, and mental health care psychologists.

The professional titles’ psychotherapist’ and ‘Mental Health Care Psychologist (Chartered Psychologist)’ are also protected titles. By law, practitioner psychologists must register themselves in the BIG register to use these titles. This registry is a database of healthcare professions and the professionals authorised to practise in them.

Other roles within psychological care:

Other psychologists are otherwise involved in mental health care, and will have other roles within psychological care, such as:

  • Conducting psychological assessments to determine a diagnosis.
  • Working as a primary care mental health worker from a GP surgery.
  • Working from other types of healthcare institutions.

Roles beyond psychological care

Many psychologists work beyond psychological care. Psychologists also work in the advertising world, for example. Or write books to share their knowledge.

Psychologists in research and education use their knowledge and skills as instructors or researchers committed to teaching and research as well as student welfare, development and learning processes. 

Psychologists in consultancy and assessment at the corporate level use their knowledge and skills as consultants to businesses. For example, psychologists may provide work-related advice, such as improving customer service and even architectural design. Or they offer support in personnel retention, recruitment, selection, and assessment tool development. They monitor the psychological aspects of working life, customer experience, communication or marketing.

Psychologists in coaching, A psychologist can also work as a coach and guide clients in their personal or professional development.

At the community or public health level, psychologists participate in policy programmes that promote prevention, health, and the development of positive lifestyle habits in the population.

Psychologist, so you treat disorders….

Individuals or organisations can consult with a psychologist to deepen their knowledge and understanding of human behaviour.

A psychologist who provides psychotherapy will indicate this her/himself.

Mental Health Services

The doctor as the first point of contact for physical and mental health

If you think you need psychological care, it is advisable to contact your primary care doctor or general practitioner.

Even if you don’t want medication (yet), it helps to talk about problems from the start.

General Practitioner Care: psychological help via the GP 

Help may also be available at the practice itself. Talking to a health professional can help restore balance and improve your mental health strategies.

The general practitioner treats medical conditions him/herself and has care provided by support staff  at the doctor’s surgery.

Many doctors’ surgeries also have a mental health worker who can help you with psychological tips and advice. You can also discuss subjects such as grief, relationships and problems at work.

Referral to Psychological care: GGZ Treatment Programme 

The GP (and support staff) will assess your symptoms. And the GP will determine if a GGZ Treatment Programme is necessary. If so, you will receive a referral to a mental health care institution (GGZ).

What to expect from psychological treatment after the doctor’s referral to Mental Health Services.

  1. Request for help and diagnosis: Before a treatment program begins, the therapist will work with you to define the problem. Your first appointment will cover an intake and a psychological evaluation/assessment.
  2. Creating a treatment plan: When the assessment results come in, the next step will be to decide how to proceed (treatment). It will also be determined where the therapy will take place (referral).
  3. Treatment: The treatment program begins.
  4. Evaluation moments: You and the therapist regularly discuss the treatment to see if it works for you. 

– Nederlands Instituut van Psychologen (NIP)

Mental health emergency and Crisis Care

In case of a mental health crisis or emergency, you should call the GP. If you have an after-hours emergency, contact the after-hours GP (huisartsenpost).


Always available, 7 days a week, day and night:

  • Luisterlijn: 0900 0767
  • (als u aan zelfdoding denkt): 113 of gratis 0800-0113

Limited access, check the website for accessibility:

Further information on psychological treatment

> Read more about mental illness on the following sites:

> More information about strategies to look after your mental health

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